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It’s Not Them, It’s You–And Why That’s Good News

Okay, so maybe it’s partially them. But it is partially you, too, which is the good news.

Here’s why.

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We’ve all fallen into the victim trap at one time or another–feeling like we’re being mistreated by people in our lives; that the reason things are hard is because of someone else’s behavior. And yes, there can be some truth to that.

But the problem with that narrative is it gives away your power. It means that your life is entirely in the hands of others; you’re at the mercy of their actions.

Some more good news? Rarely is that the case.

Dynamics are incredibly powerful. That means that two people in a relationship are always acting on each other. We get into predictable patterns, both negative and positive, where we exert a pull on each other to continue to behave as we always have. Sometimes the negative patterns feel like they’ve taken over, and when we’re in a lot of distress, we might want to believe that it’s not our fault.

Yet we’re always playing some sort of role in what’s occurring in our lives. To tell ourselves otherwise is a disservice. It means that all we can do is wait and hope for a change that may never┬ácome.

If we instead look at ourselves and how we’re contributing to the situation, that’s where we’ll locate our power. And maybe the only power we have is to leave, but that’s a whole lot of power.

Taking stock of yourself and your life might mean making hard choices. It might mean seeing things about ourselves that we’ve long tried to avoid seeing. It might mean shedding our denial. It might mean acknowledging why we choose unhealthy partners and situations, and why we stay too long in something that is causing distress. It might mean losing a relationship in which we’ve invested so much. It might mean a painful therapy process.

But it also means that we’re not merely victims of others, or of circumstance. It means we’re free agents, with our own part to play, and our own lives to lead.

Again, that’s very good news.

It’s Not Them, It’s You–And Why That’s Good News

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2017). It’s Not Them, It’s You–And Why That’s Good News. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Jul 2017
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